Home > The Destiny of Violet & Luke (The Coincidence #3)(7)

The Destiny of Violet & Luke (The Coincidence #3)(7)
Jessica Sorensen

“Now are you going to let me help you back to your dorm or not?” His fingers gently press into my side.

I dither, then place my hand on his shoulder so I can lift more weight off my foot. “No, but I’ll let you help me to class.” I catch a hint of his scent; cologne mixed with soap and a splash of tequila.

He gapes at me. “You need to stay off your foot.”

“No, I need to go to class,” I argue, then hold my breath because the scent of his cologne is delicious. “It’s important.”

“Why? It’s just one class.”

“Because I don’t miss class. Ever.”

He searches my eyes for God knows what, a sign of sanity maybe, but then he gives up and nods. “All right Violet…” He waits for me to give him my last name, but I only shake my head. I don’t like saying my real last name because then I remember that I’m the only living person left carrying it. I could use my made-up one, but I don’t like giving that one out either since it seems like I’m giving someone an open invitation to know me. “Okay, then Violet with no last name. Let’s get you to class.”

Then for the first time in thirteen years, someone actually helps me. And the odd thing is he willingly does it.

Luke

I help Violet to class, bearing as much of her weight as she’ll let me, but she seems pretty dead set on letting me help her as little as possible and keeps putting weight on her ankle. It looks like shit, purple and blue, swollen up so big she couldn’t even get a shoe on and I seriously just want to pick her up so she won’t put any weight on it at all, plus I’ll be able to move at my pace not hers. But I can tell there’s no way she’ll let me and honestly, I’m not that chivalrous. If I was acting like my normal self I’d have left her out under the tree.

It was a complete fluke that I crossed paths with her. I’d taken one too many shots of tequila this morning and my head was too foggy for me to drive to the university. So I had to walk and just happened to pass by when Violet was leaning against the tree. She looked like she was struggling and all I could think about was her falling out the window… my sister Amy jumping off the roof… suddenly I was walking over to her.

We end up being late and she’s upset about it. She doesn’t seem like the kind of person who would care so much about being on a schedule or getting good grades, but neither do I. My need to control my life, my grades, is an obsessive habit I developed early on to fight the constant loss of control that always surrounded me when I was at home. I wonder what her reasons are.

I don’t sit by her in class, not just because I don’t want to come off as some obsessed guy, but there aren’t any vacant desks beside her. I sit at an empty desk a few rows behind her and I try to concentrate on what Professor Dotterman is saying instead of what Violet’s doing, but it’s hard.

I thought about her a lot last night, even in my drunken stupor, which completely defeated the purpose of getting drunk. But she never did explain to me why she jumped out the window. I want to believe she wasn’t trying to end her life, but knowing what I know—knowing what happened with Amy—I can’t help but think about the deeper meanings behind her jump.

The longer I watch her, the more I analyze her. She’s extremely stubborn—that much I understand—even going as far as refusing to stretch her foot out comfortably in front of her. She’s sitting straight up in her chair, with her feet planted firmly below her. I think I might have met my match for the Stubbornest Person in the World award. It’s an award I’ve pretty much been winning since I was sixteen when I decided to stop trusting people and doing only what I wanted. I’d spent way too much time giving other people everything they needed and finally I turned sixteen and got my driver’s license. Suddenly, I had the freedom to go anywhere whenever I wanted and it didn’t matter who was with me. I had myself and that was all that mattered. No one controlled me or had power over me and I’ve been making sure things stayed that way ever since.

Violet kind of seems like that. I’ve never met anyone who was so determined to do things on their own. But it’s not like I’m about to ask her why. She gave me a dirty look just from me asking her last name and she’d probably try to kick my ass if I asked her anything personal. Although, the idea of her trying to kick my ass is sort of enthralling. It’s not my usual thing. I like things easy and uncomplicated, because my life was too complicated when I was younger. For some reason, though, challenging Violet is becoming appealing. Then again no one’s ever really tried to challenge me, too afraid to go up against the intense image I purposely send out.

I can tell Violet tries to look tough, but beneath the diamond stud in her nose, the red streaks in her hair, and the tattoos on the back of her neck, she’s f**king gorgeous—even though she’s wearing the same dress she had on last night, she has no makeup on, and her hair isn’t done. She also doesn’t have the muscle to do any damage, her long and slender legs and arms better suited to wrap herself around me, then hit or kick my ass.

I roll my tongue in my mouth at the idea of her legs and arms wrapped around me as I pin her underneath me and thrust deep inside her. It’s got me curious about trying it and I’m seriously debating taking a break from the slutty, lacking-in-substance women that I’ve been hooking up with since I was sixteen.

In the middle of my thoughts, Violet casually glances over her shoulder. It’s obvious she’s trying to discreetly look at me, but I’m already looking at her, so it doesn’t work. Her eyelids lower a little, like she’s going to scowl at me, but instead she gives me this cocky look like she knows I was looking at her first. I’m not sure how to react to this, because usually I’m the cocky one. Pissed off at myself, I decide to stop being obsessive since I barely know anything about her, other than she likes to jump out windows and hates getting helped.

I start penning notes, seeking some structure amid my mess of thoughts. I can handle chaos when I’m drunk, because I’m too drunk to notice, but right now I’m too sober to deal with a girl who literally came crashing into my life.

I remain focused on the lecture for the rest of class and when the professor lets the class go I seriously consider letting Violet fend for herself. But as I walk by her, I notice her staring at her ankle with her book tucked under her arm and her eyebrows furrowed. As much as I only take care of myself anymore, when I picture her jumping out the window, either by accident or not, I find myself stopping beside her desk. I stick my elbow out, giving her the option of taking it. She looks up at me, giving me a real glimpse of her green eyes in the daylight. They’re insanely big and beautiful, surrounded by long black eyelashes, but there’s something missing from them. Emotion. Most of the time, when I look into people’s eyes, I can get a good glimpse of what they’re feeling, but with Violet I can’t see anything, like she has a shield up.

Her fingers wrap around my arm and she tugs herself to her feet. When she gets her balance, I slip my arm around her lower back and settle my hand on her side. I feel her muscles constrict, but her face remains blank. Then she leans her weight on me, her hair brushing my cheek, and we walk out of the classroom.

We don’t talk as we head down the crowded hallway, lazily winding through people. At first I think our silence is because I can’t think of anything to say, but then it starts to become some sort of challenge over who can be the most stubborn, at least to me it is. If I talk first, I lose. If she does, then she loses.

We push out the door and cross the quad toward the sidewalk. It’s the end of April, the sun is shining, and the air is a little chilly, but tolerable even without a jacket. Only a few more weeks and the semester will be over. Then everyone will return home. I’m trying to find a way out of it, though. The idea of going back and living with my mother is f**king unbearable. And my dad… he’s preoccupied with other things at the moment, like his wedding. Besides, I’ve seen him maybe eight times since he walked out on my mom and me and half of those have been this year. The idea of asking to live with him aggravates me because I don’t want to need anything from him. I want to be on my own here in Laramie. I could get a job now that football isn’t going, but I f**king have the worst people skills and I tend to make people skittish, which makes getting a job really hard. Plus, I’d have to get an apartment unless I take summer classes. I need a little break from school, but I also need a roommate to afford living anywhere and Kayden’s going to be gone all summer with Callie. I don’t have much in the line of friends besides the guys I play football with and I really don’t want to live with any of them. I can barely stand living with Kayden and he’s been my best friend since we were kids. I could go gamble a little bit, take some risks, see if I can get a bigger cash flow, but ever since I lost a big hand during a game back in March, I haven’t had enough to ante up for a game worth playing. Not unless I want to throw down all my cash, which I sort of want to do because I miss owning the game, cheating my way to the top. It’s what I’m good at, at least most of the time, that is unless I lose the card I’m hiding like I did during the game in March.

The rest of the journey with Violet is interesting. She keeps glancing at me with arrogance and sometimes intrigue. It feels like she wants to say something, yet she never does, and the more she does it the more insane it drives me. When we get on the elevator at her dorm and the doors shut, Violet clears her throat and I think she’s finally going to speak. She peeks at me from the corner of her eye and I tilt my head to the side, waiting for her to utter the first word. But instead she hits me with that arrogant look like she did in class and I’m thrown off by her cocky attitude again. I almost break down and ask her what the hell that look is about. Lose our silent battle, just like that. Let her win. Let her have that kind of power over me. She’s got me all riled up and I’m cursing myself for not taking more shots before I left my room this morning.

For a brief second, I seriously contemplate pushing the emergency button and stopping the elevator, so I can push her back against the wall and kiss her fiercely before pulling away and leaving her. Regain a little of my control and power over the situation.

But as the elevator continues up and my arms stay at my side, I realize that I can’t go through with it and honestly I have no idea why. She’s messing with my head and I don’t know what else to do besides stare at my reflection in the shiny steel doors for the rest of the elevator ride. When the doors open, I let out a breath of relief, glad we’re coming to the end of this strange, silent journey. As we approach Violet’s dorm room toward the end of the hall, I spot Kayden and Callie standing in front of the door. They’re smiling as they talk to each other and they make it look so easy, so natural, like it’s as simple as breathing. But even breathing is difficult for me sometimes.

Callie says something and Kayden laughs, but when he sees me walking up the hallway with Violet his expression fills with inquisitiveness.

“What’s up?” he asks as we walk up to them. He glances from Violet to me, then his eyebrows arch, his eyes widening a little.

Callie steps out of the way as Violet moves out of my arm and drags her foot as she moves up to the door. “Are you okay?” Callie asks, looking down at Violet’s ankle.

“Yeah,” Violet answers with indifference as she punches in the code to their room with her finger. The lock beeps and she shoves the door open, tossing her book aside as she starts to shut the door behind her. I’m about to call our stubborn challenge a tie, when she pauses with the door still open a crack, her eyes sparkling with life for the very first time, and says, “Thanks, Mr. Stoically Aloof.”

“You’re welcome, Violet with no last name,” I tell her and then she shuts the door.

Callie and Kayden instantly look at me and I work to keep a smile off my face.

“What the hell was that about?” Kayden asks, slipping his arm around Callie’s shoulder. She’s a tiny little thing and he has to lean down a little to reach her.

I shrug, not wanting to get into it. “She hurt her foot and I helped her back to her room.”

Callie gives me a wary look. “How’d she hurt it?”

I shrug again. “I’m not sure.”

One of the things I like about both of them is that they respect privacy and so they don’t press.

“Where are you headed?” Kayden asks me, pulling Callie in to give her a kiss on the top of her head. “Back to the dorm?”

I start to back toward the elevators, stuffing my hands into my pockets. “I was thinking about hitting the gym. It’s been a while. You want to come with me?”

Kayden nods. “Yeah, I’m down.” He glances at Callie. “You want to come? I’ll help you with your kickboxing skills.” He winks at her and she rolls her eyes, smiling.

“Whatever. I totally kicked your ass last time,” she says, reaching for the key code on the door. “I can’t anyway. I have to study for my biology final.”

Kayden looks disappointed and I look away as he leans in to kiss her. As much as I’m happy for them, I sometimes miss my best friend not being whipped. I start to head toward the elevators to wait for him there when Callie calls out my name.

“Wait a minute, Luke,” she says and I slowly turn around.

She’s walking toward me with Kayden at her heels. When she reaches me, she snags my arm and hauls me past the elevator while Kayden waits behind, like he knows she wants to talk to me alone.

“How are you doing?” She tucks some strands of her brown hair behind her ear, seeming uneasy. “With the stuff with your sister, I mean.”

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